Crew to make station a home
BY WILLIAM HARWOOD
Posted: August 31, 2000
Running two years behind schedule because of Russian funding shortfalls and recent problems with Proton boosters, Zvezda was finally boosted into space July 12, clearing the way for arrival of the lab's first full-time crew in November.
To save weight, Zvezda was launched with just five of its eight batteries installed and with many of its modular life support and control systems incomplete.
Some of the missing equipment, along with crew supplies, food and other material, was launched Aug. 6 aboard the Progress 251 vehicle now docked to the far end of Zvezda. Additional equipment and supplies will be launched aboard Atlantis in a double Spacehab module mounted in the shuttle's cargo bay.
The astronauts will be hard pressed to completely unload both vehicles during the five days Atlantis is docked to the station.
"There are over 600 kilograms of cargo in the Progress cargo hold," Morukov said. "We made an attempt to load the cargo in the sequence that would best fit the unloading process and the accommodation aboard the station.
"Some of the cargoes are packed in U.S.-made bags that are very easy to accommodate on the station and which have specified preset locations," he added. "Other cargos - large components in boxes for the various systems - will be installed into the locations where they will be operated subsequently. This cargo complement includes very important components of the life support system.
The Atlantis astronauts will, however, use spare fuel aboard the space shuttle to boost the station's altitude by about three nautical miles (six kilometers), saving the station's propellant for use when the shuttle is not available.
Morukov is responsible for orchestrating the Progress unloading. Burbank will direct stowage and assembly operations in the space station while Mastracchio will organize the unloading of the Spacehab module.
"Not only are we taking cargo and logistics from the orbiter but we're also bringing them across the hatch from the Progress into the service module," Burbank said. "It's going to be a major exercise in choreography. The key to all that is just doing the homework ahead of time."
Along with moving supplies into the station, the astronauts will assemble a Russian Elektron oxygen generator, a carbon dioxide removal system and major components of the station's toilet. They will also assemble a NASA-supplied treadmill and install laptop computers and equipment to set up a local area network.
Two new batteries will be installed in the Zarya module - four were replaced during the most recent shuttle visit in May - and three batteries and their charge-discharge controllers will be installed aboard Zvezda, giving the module a full complement of eight.
The Progress 251 vehicle is loaded with some 1,313 pounds (588 kilograms) of material, including components for the Elektron oxygen generator, the carbon dioxide air scrubber and toilet components.
"One of the primary goals of STS-106 is to get that vehicle off loaded because we will need an additional vehicle, Progress 2, to deliver the remaining supplies that are required to meet the early initial conditions for the crew, to have all the necessary supplies," Engelauf said.
"In addition, we will be off-loading a significant amount of cargo from the Spacehab," he said. "After we arrive, we'll move some of the supplies from the Zarya into Zvezda, we'll unload some equipment out of the Zarya that is no longer required. ... In addition, we'll be transferring a couple of science payloads."
Other objectives include:
The station's first full-time crew - commander William Shepherd, Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei Krikalev - will complete activation of Zvezda's life support systems after arrival in early November.
"We've basically got a house up there that we're trying to get ready for somebody else to move into but half the systems aren't installed," Lu said.
"We're going to show up with two big moving vans - a shuttle and a Progress - and we've got five days once we get up there for all of us to unload all that stuff, get it put together, install it in its proper place and ... get a lot of systems up and running or ready for the Expedition One crew to do that themselves."
Because of the sheer volume of material to be transferred, stored and set up in the station, NASA managers are holding open the option of extending Atlantis's mission by one day.
"It's very aggressive and our list of things that we can do productively on this flight exceeds the amount of time we're going to have available," Engelauf said.
But a decision to extend the flight likely will not be made until after the shuttle is in orbit, based on the shuttle's actual power consumption. If the flight is not extended, Atlantis will undock from the station late in the evening (Eastern time) on Sept. 16.
"We'll separate away to a distance of about 450 feet from the center of gravity of the vehicle and the crew will initiate a fly around. This is going to be our first opportunity to do a good exterior inspection of the Zvezda since we arrived on orbit."
Over the next two days, the astronauts will relax and enjoy a bit of time off before testing re-entry systems and gearing up for a pre-dawn landing at the Kennedy Space Center on Sept. 19.
"This is a tremendously important mission," Altman said. "We're preparing the international space station for its first occupants. So I feel a heavy responsibility as far as putting things together, making sure everything is up and ready for them when they arrive, so that they can get right to work without having to deal with any of the hassles of basically building a new house. We want to have it ready for move-in when we're complete."
OPENING ASSEMBLY FLOODGATES | LAUNCH TIMED TO CATCH ISS |
SPACEWALK TO WIRE UP STATION | MAKING A HOME IN SPACE
NASA animation shows Atlantis approaching and docking to the international space station during the STS-106 mission.
PLAY (243k, 34sec QuickTime file)
Atlantis undocks and makes a fly-around of the international space station before departing during the STS-106 mission as seen in NASA animation.
PLAY (251k, 51sec QuickTime file)
Take an animated tour of the international space station in its current configuration, including the Unity, Zarya and Zvezda modules and Progress cargo freighter.
PLAY (271k, 42sec QuickTime file)
FULL VIDEO LISTING
Download QuickTime 4 software to view this file.